Gusties And Royals To Battle For MIAC Football Upper Echelon

Posted on October 12th, 2017 by

Gustavus vs. Bethel
Date: Saturday, Oct. 14
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: St. Peter, Minn. | Hollingsworth Field
Live Coverage: Live Stats | Watch


ST. PETER, Minn. – The Gustavus football team is set to face Bethel University on Saturday afternoon, looking to bounce back after recuperating from its first conference loss with a bye week. The Gusties (3-2, 2-1 MIAC) host the Royals (2-4, 2-2 MIAC) at 1 p.m. at Hollingsworth Field. 


Saturday’s game is designated as a Tackle Cancer game. The Gusties will help raise money for the Randy Shaver Cancer Research & Community Fund, which funds research, prevention, treatment and other programs relating to the Minnesota cancer community’s needs. In addition to raising money for Randy Shaver’s fund, the Gusties are also designating half of today’s funds to the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance (MOCA) in honor of would-be junior women’s soccer player Trina Rinke, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer this summer. You can donate to Randy Shaver’s fund and MOCA by finding one of the many Saint Peter High School football players walking around the stadium with donation buckets. 


Head Coach Peter Haugen is in his ninth season at the helm of the Gustavus football program. Haugen, the 2015 MIAC CoCoach-of-the-Year, has a combined record of 40-45 and is 28-39 in the MIAC. In the past four seasons, Haugen directed the Gusties to an overall record of 24-16. A graduate of Bethel University, Haugen was the head coach at Washburn High School in Minneapolis prior to coming to Gustavus.

Steve Johnson is in his 29th year as the head football coach at Bethel University. A native of Chicago, Johnson graduated from Bethel in 1979 before beginning his coaching career. Johnson made stops at St. Cloud State, St. Cloud Cathedral High School, the University of Minnesota, and Montana State before landing the Bethel job in 1989. He boasts a career record of 202-93-1 overall and ranks fourth among active NCAA Division III coaches in career wins.


Saturday’s game marks the 40th all-time meeting between the Gustavus and Bethel football programs, with the Royals holding a 22-17 series advantage. Last season, the Gusties fell 32- 17 at Royal Stadium in Arden Hills, Minn. Bethel did all of its damage in the first half, scoring 12 points in the first quarter and 20 in the second, while holding the Gusties to a field goal for a 32-3 advantage at halftime.


With the Gusties starting quarterback Michael Veldman (Jr., Becker, Minn.) going down with an injury, the Black and Gold will look to use their other offensive weapons moving forward. Gavyn Walsh (Fy., Andover, Minn.) steps in to replace Veldman, having appeared in four games with eight completions and one touchdown pass. Limited to just the first three games in 2017 due to injury, Jamison Beulke (Jr., Montgomery, Minn.) returns to pace the Gustavus offense as a dual threat running back and receiver. Despite missing the previous two games, Beulke is still the Gustavus leader in rushing and all-purpose yards, having breakout games against Westminster and Augsburg. Against the Auggies, Beulke led the ground and aerial attack, establishing career-highs in both categories, while totaling 284 all-purpose yards. Beulke rushed 21 times for 99 yards with two touchdowns and brought in 14 receptions for 185 yards, earning MIAC Offensive Player of the Week honors.


Gustavus Head Coach Peter Haugen, a 1991 graduate of Bethel University, is facing his alma mater for the ninth time in his coaching career at Gustavus. Not only is Haugen facing his former team, but he is also facing his former coach in Steve Johnson. Haugen played for the Royals from 1987-to-1990 and was on Johnson’s first team in 1989, when the Royals went 2-6- 1. During his collegiate playing career, Haugen went 1-3 against the team he now coaches.


Senior outside linebacker and co-caption, Casey Decker (Mapleton, Minn.) ranks among the MIAC leaders in several defensive categories. Totaling 32 tackles (12 solo, 20 assisted) on the season, Decker leads the conference with nine tackles for loss and five sacks. In addition, Decker has tallied two pass breakups, two passes defended, two quarterback hurries, and one forced fumble. The most recent matchup at Concordia marked the first game in 2017 in which Decker did not pick up a tackle for loss or a sack. A vital member of the special teams unit as well, Decker plays an important role as the Gustie punter, totaling 777 yards on 22 punts, placing four inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.


Saturday’s game will determine which team will be near the top of the MIAC standings and remain in contention for a league championship. A Bethel win would propel the Royals above the Gusties in the standings and conversely, a Gustavus win would keep the Gusties in the top four at the very least. Coupling a Gustavus victory with a loss from either Saint John’s or Concordia would put the Black and Gold in third place. St. Thomas will remain at the top with a 4-0 record and having a bye today.


After suffering its first Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference loss of the season to No. 16-ranked Concordia College by a score of 27-17 in Moorhead, Minn. on Sept. 30, the Gustavus Adolphus football team enters today’s league showdown against Bethel University reenergized after the bye week.

Turnovers proved to be the difference in the 27-17 loss at Concordia. The Gusties led 14-10 at halftime, but the Cobbers were able to turn an interception and a fumble recovery into 14 points, while holding the visitors to a field goal in the final 30 minutes to secure the victory.

Through five games, Gustavus ranks as the No. 1 offense in the conference with an average of 444.6 yards of total offense per game, which has been guided by 1,666 yards of total passing yardage. However, with starting quarterback Michael Veldman out with an injury, the Gusties will lean more on the defensive unit as well as their other offensive weapons today against the Royals.

The Black and Gold receiving core has been a dangerous group, with four players owning at least 20 receptions. Josh Kirk (So., Garvin, Minn.) has totaled 409 receiving yards and ranks fifth in the conference with an average of 81.8 yards per game. Brice Panning (So., Hamburg, Minn.) has been a red-zone threat for the Gusties, leading the team and ranking third in the MIAC with five touchdown receptions, followed by four from Kirk. After missing the previous two games with an injury, dual threat running back/wide receiver Jamison Beulke returns as one of the offensive leaders. In the first three games of 2017, Beulke recorded 204 rushing yards and 333 receiving yards along with three touchdowns.

Defensively, the Gusties have allowed an average of 296.4 yards of total offense per game, which ranks third in the conference. The defense has limited 168.2 passing yards per game, while surrendering 128.2 rushing yards per game. Co-captain outside linebacker Casey Decker has led the Gustavus defensive unit, leading the conference with five sacks and nine tackles for loss. Matt Berkner (Jr., Sleepy Eye, Minn.) leads the team with 37 tackles along with one interception, followed by 33 tackles from Jake Boykin (So., Las Cruces, N.M.), and 32 from Decker.


The Bethel University football team rolls into St. Peter looking to build on the momentum of last Saturday’s 49-0 homecoming triumph over Carleton College at Royal Stadium. The Royals compiled over 650 yards of total offense while limiting the Knights to just 166. The passing game guided the Bethel offensive attack, as the Royals totaled 437 passing yards, while seven different Royals found the end zone.

After opening the 2017 season with three consecutive losses, Bethel has won two of its last three matchups, earning wins over St. Olaf and Carleton while falling at Saint John’s. Averaging 404.7 total yards per game (4th/ MIAC), the Royals rank fourth in rushing yards (130.8 avg.) and third in passing yards (273.8 avg.) per game. Sophomore quarterback Jake Marsh has completed 63.1 percent (106- 168) of his passes for 1,438 yards (239.7 ypg) and carries a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 10-to-6. Marsh ranks second in the MIAC in completion percentage and third in passing yards. Senior wide receiver Bryce Marquardt is Marsh’s top target through the air, leading the MIAC with 20.9 yards per catch and ranking second in the conference with 544 receiving yards.

A young trio heads the Bethel ground game, with first-years Sam Gibas and Gideon Erhabor, along with sophomore Riley McCann leading the way. Gibas leads the Royals with 270 rushing yards, followed by 198 from McCann. Gibas and Erhabor each have four touchdowns.

The Royal defense has allowed an average of 314.3 yards of total offense per game, allowing 199.3 passing yards (4th/MIAC) and 115.0 rushing yards (5th/MIAC) per game. The secondary unit leads the defense as the Royals are tied for third in the MIAC with seven interceptions. Sophomore defensive back Cale Ferrin guides the defense with 39 tackles (21 solo, 18 assisted), while leading the team with three interceptions. Drew Ragsdale, Dawson Brown, and Brett Norling follow with 37, 35, and 32 tackles, respectively.


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